Pittsburgh Current, Volume 3, Issue 1

Page 1



Jan. 14, 2020 - Jan. 27, 2020 PGHCURRENT



Magically Funny Derek Hughes brings his combination of magic and comedy to Liberty Magic


STAFF Publisher/Editor: Charlie Deitch Charlie@pittsburghcurrent.com Associate Publisher: Bethany Ruhe Bethany@pittsburghcurrent.com

EDITORIAL Art Director: Larissa Mallon Larissa@pittsburghcurrent.com Music Editor: Margaret Welsh Margaret@pittsburghcurrent.com Visuals Editor: Jake Mysliwczyk Jake@pittsburghcurrent.com Staff Writer, Arts: Amanda Reed Amanda@pittsburghcurrent.com Craft Beer Writer: Day Bracey

CONTENTS Vol. III Iss. I January 14, 2020 NEWS 4 | Family Tradition 6 | Brewed On Grant OPINION 7 | Guest Op-Ed MUSIC 8 | Hardworking Folk 10 | Relighting a Release 11 | First/Last 12 | Chart Toppers 13 | Music Listings ART 19 | 20 | 22 | 23 |

Essential Reading Magically Funny Can't Miss Event Listing

info@pittsburghcurrent.com Listings Clerk: Makinley Magill

FOOD 27 | Taking a Dive

Makinley@pittsburghcurrent.com Contributing Writers: Jody DiPerna, Nick Eustis, Hugh Twyman, Justin Vellucci, Emerson Andrews, Dan Savage, Steve Sucato, Ted Hoover

EXTRA 30 | Savage Love 31 | Parting Shot

info@pittsburghcurrent.com Logo Design: Mark Addison

ADVERTISING Vice President of Sales: Paul Klatzkin Paul@pittsburghcurrent.com Senior Account Executive: Andrea James Andrea@pittsburghcurrent.com Sales Associate: Ross Cortese Ross@pittsburghcurrent.com Sales Associate: Kiara Cooper Kiara@pittsburghcurrent.com


COVER PHOTO BY: JAKE MSLYWCZYK THE FINE PRINT The contents of the Pittsburgh Current are Š 2020 by Pittsburgh Current, LLC. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this publication shall be duplicated or reprinted without the express-written consent of Pittsburgh Current LLC.The Pittsburgh Current is published twice monthly beginning August 2018. The opinions contained in columns and letters to the editors represent the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Pittsburgh Current ownership, management and staff. The Pittsburgh Current is an independently owned and operated print and online media company produced in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Beechview neighborhood, 1665 Broadway Ave., Pittsburgh, PA., 15216. 412-204-7248. Email us: info@pittsburghcurrent.com.



Pittsburgh native T.J. McConnell of the Indiana Pacers (Photo by Pacers Sports & Entertainment)




he NBA’s T.J. McConnell is familiar with the number 9. There are 9-syllables in his complete name, Timothy John McConnell Jr. His birthdate, 3/25/1992, has 9-syllables and his last name has nine letters. In 2015, he signed his official NBA contract in September, the ninth

calendar month, which also has nine letters. He got married in 2017 on September 9 (9/9). His Indiana Pacers Jersey sports the number nine on the back. There are other connections to this number [more on that in a minute], but his most important connection is to his roots, which are firmly planted right here in Pitts-


burgh. T.J. McConnell Jr. was the oldest of three children born to Timothy and Shelly on March 25, 1992 in Pittsburgh. His nine-letter last name is probably familiar to you already, because the McConnells have long been dubbed the “First Family of Pittsburgh Basketball.” He played high school ball at Chartiers Valley and college hoops at Duquesne for two seasons before transferring to the University of Arizona. T.J.’s father, Tim, played basketball and is a coaching legend at Char Valley. He booked more than 500 wins and six WPIAL titles as coach of the boys’ team. In 2018 he swapped jobs when the school’s girls’ head coaching job became available. And you may have heard about some of his aunts and uncles including Suzie McConnell-Serio, a former WNBA Coach of the Year, United States Olympian and former head coach at both Duquesne and Pitt. Most of the rest of the family also has ties to either playing, coaching, or refereeing. You could say he inherited (nine letters, by the way) his basketball talent, he was around it his whole life. During his father’s 25-year career at Char Valley, T.J., his siblings and his cousins were known as “the travel babies” because they attended practices, games and mimicked the drills the players ran. It was a setting that T.J. says felt like home. “The gym was my sanctuary, an environment I embraced and thrived in,” he says. “I remember going to my dad’s practices, to games, being in the gym with family. I don’t know where I’d be without basketball.” But McConnell’s relationship with basketball was a two-way street. He got really good at the game he loved; he led with an infectious intensity. As a junior, he averaged 22.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 5.9 steals per game; he also was named second team all-state. As a senior, McConnell was team captain and averaged 34.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 9.1 assists per game as he led the Colts to a 29-2 record, a WPIAL title, and a berth in the PIAA Class 3A state championship game. He was also a three-time section MVP, was named Class 3A Player of The Year

by the Pennsylvania Associated Press and the Post-Gazette’s Male High School Athlete of the Year, following his senior year. “I was thankful and humbled to have a great high school basketball career and to have received so many accolades,” he said. “This was also nice because it really put Pittsburgh on the map ... people [could] see that good [athletes] can come out of Pittsburgh.” After high school, McConnell took his talents to Duquesne University. At Duquesne he was able to cultivate his talents, but the team wasn’t setting the world on fire. In his first two seasons, the Dukes were a middling squad, finishing 19-13 and 16-15 respectively. In March 2012, the NCAA Basketball Tournament began and the first two rounds were held in Pittsburgh. T.J. and his dad, Tim, watched Ohio State beat Gonzaga, 73-66 to advance to the Elite 8. During that game, T.J. McConnell had an epiphany and told his dad simply, “I’m transferring to Arizona.” His goal was to win the National Championship. He did not return to Duquense and instead, transferred to The University of Arizona. He sat out the 2012-2013 basketball season due to NCAA transfer rules. McConnell played during the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons, both culminating in Elite Eight appearances. Following college, McConnell declared for the 2015 NBA Draft. After going undrafted, he joined the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2015 NBA Summer League. The Summer League allowed McConnell to develop his talents further. In September 2015, he signed with the Philadelphia 76ers. He was on, well, “Cloud 9.” “I had raw emotion. I was happy, and the fact that I was able to live out my dream was awesome,” McConnell said. He played in Philadelphia until the end of the 2019 season. He worked hard on his game. “I try to be a good teammate on and off the court and give my teammates the ball to make sure the offense runs smoothly. I fight for my job every day, and it motivates me to work hard,” he said. Last July,McConnell opted for a change of scenery.


Pittsburgh native T.J. McConnell of the Indiana Pacers (Photo by Pacers Sports & Entertainment)

He signed a two-year, $7 million deal with the Indiana Pacers. “The Indiana Pacers are a great team, a young team, and very talented. We can do some special things with the pieces that are already here and with the pieces that have been added, he said. “I’m excited to be a part of it.” It’s also not lost on McConnell that he is playing in the most basketball-crazed states in the country, “The fans love basketball, and I have a lot of respect for the culture and community in Indiana.” But being a professional athlete means more to McConnell than just an opportunity to play the game. It’s his family roots in Pittsburgh that has gotten himself involved in philanthropic activities. Although, currently a novice philanthropist, he plans to expand his role in that area, In 2017, McConnell participated in the “Dimes for Dollars” initiative benefiting the Sixers Youth Foun-

dation. For every assist he made, Firsttrust Bank donated $7.76 to the foundation, an amount McConnell matched. In 2017, McConnell. was given the “Good Guy Award” by the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association. He also spends time mentoring younger players. “I know how it feels to be in a Summer League. If these players have any questions, I support them and will answer any questions they have,” McConnell said. Through a special program, McConnell has also been given the opportunity to mentor a child whose father lost his life in the line of duty. Chris Frison’s dad, Demetrius, was killed in Iraq on April 10, 2011, exactly one month after the soldier’s 26th birthday. “This child went through something tragic, and at his age, having someone to talk to in his time of need is huge,” McConnell said. “He’s taught me to be a better person and to always be positive.” PITTSBURGH CURRENT | JANUARY 14, 2020 | 5




Zeca Gonzalez seks at a protest January 6 outside of the Federal Building in Downtown Pittsburgh. (Current Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)



recently attended a protest aimed at condemning the possibility of military conflict with Iran. Considering our shameful history of interference in Iranian affairs, I believe we as Americans have a moral responsibility to speak out against this latest attempt at colonial slaughter. The United States, in partnership with Great Britain, toppled the democratically elected prime minister of Iran in 1953. Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh’s grand offense

was attempting to nationalize an oil industry that was largely dominated by foreign companies. Shocking to think that Iranian national resources would be utilized to benefit its people. Following the ouster of Mossadegh, western forces installed the Shah, known as a brutal dictator. The Shah wiped out most political opposition in the country, excluding forces organized by the Ayatollah Kohmeini. The Ayatollah was able to seize control of Iran in 1979, meaning that regime is younger than the

band ABBA. Think about that. The end of foreign-imposed governance in Iran is a younger phenomenon than the song “Mamma Mia.” The United States responded to this defeat by calmly and rationally reevaluating its position as a brutal imperialist force around the world. Just kidding. We gave a bunch of chemical weapons to Iraq, so they could murder Iranian civillians in one of the most painful ways conceivable. Now you might be thinking to yourself, didn’t Reagan also sell weapons to Iran so he could fund fascists in Central America? Yup, we encouraged Iraq to attack Iran, and then made money by selling weapons to both sides. There’s also that time in 1988, when we shot down a commercial airliner with hundreds of Iranian civilians aboard. Yes,, you read that right. Imagine the news coverage if they ever did that to us. Since the ’80s, we’ve seen a smattering of proxy wars here and there. Politicians have suggested full-scale invasion, occasionally using cutesy names like the “Axis of Evil” to bolster their cases. While, liberals have often presented the imposition of sanctions as the more humane option. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of sanctions, that’s when we attempt to starve a nation to encourage dissent among the local populace. If you think that’s an effective strategy for achieving our international goals as a country, then by all means make your case. I, for one, am opposed to letting people die of hunger or lack of medical care in the hopes that they will blame their government. Furthermore, I am sick to death of allowing horrid policies to be sanitized by bland euphemisms. This brings us to our current political moment. The President has committed an unprompted act of war and murdered the general of a country with whom we are not engaged in active hostilities. Some have speculated that this is a futile gesture to secure support during the 2020 election. I find it absolutely believable that Trump would risk hundreds of thousands, if not

millions, of people’s lives for his own interest. However, these actions are also consistent with the historical perceptions of the United States toward the Middle East. The U.S. wants to own the Middle East, and Iran especially. We have never forgiven them for escaping the orbit of our control, because we like to think that their resources are ours by birthright. Let’s be clear, this isn’t about nuclear weapons. If we wanted to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, then we would have never given nukes to Israel. There is no significant evidence that Iran is currently, nor have they ever, sought to develop nuclear weapons. Even so, the best way to prevent the proliferation of nukes would have been to just leave in place the nuclear deal that Obama brokered with Iran. You’ll remember this as the deal conservatives absolutely hated, because their real goal isn’t to peacefully negotiate nuclear non-proliferation. Conservatives, and many liberals, want any excuse possible to invade Iran. This isn’t about democracy. Our main allies in the Middle East include monarchies, military dictatorships, and apartheid states. The United States does not actually care about democracy abroad, and we have only used that excuse when we sought to invade another country. This is not about women’s rights. How many women did we kill in our invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan? Two countries which, coincidentally, border Iran. This is not about terrorism. If you want to stop the spread of terrorism, the most effective strategy would be to stop murdering civillians, which inspires their surving family members to take up arms against us. This is about maintaining colonial control in the region. The final excuse I hear often has to do with concern about “Iranian influence” in the Middle East. Well then, let me end on a question about that.. What makes Iranian influence so evil, and our’s so good?



Tom Breiding (Current Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)

HARDWORKING FOLK BY MARGARET WELSH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MUSIC EDITOR MARGARET@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM There’s a prayer that Tom Breiding used to say as a child. He’s forgotten most of it now, but one line remains in his mind: “Love commits me here.” He chose that line as the title to his 14th album, which he released earlier this month. It shows up in the title track, which pays tribute to the love shared between his parents, while also mourning the hatred and violence of our world. And it finds its way on to “Fannie Sellins,” which tells the story of the union organizer who was murdered in 1919. “An

angel of mercy, a guardian dear.” Breiding sings gently, in true and stirring admiration of a martyred hero. “A battle for freedom and love committed her here.” That song was written to be performed at Sellins’ gravesite in Arnold, PA on the 100th anniversary of her death. Breiding had already written around the phrase by then, but when he started writing about Sellins, he recalls, “That line was perfect: Love committed her here.” “Love is such a positive word to use anyway, and it means a lot of


things,” Breiding says over coffee at Kaibur in Polish Hill a few months ago. “It’s my love of what I do, my love of where I come from, and love for where I’ve found myself, with some of these people I’ve met.” In other words, Breiding’s music -and his life -- has developed into its own act of commitment by love. Part of that commitment is to telling the story of the American labor movement. As the artist- in-residence for the United Mine Workers of America, Breiding provides music for union rallies, among other things.

In 2016 he played for an audience of 10 thousand as part of an event petitioning the U.S. government to fulfill its promise of cradle-to-grave healthcare for America’s coal workers. Though he’s been declared “the greatest labor singer in the United States today” by UMWA president Cecil Roberts, Breiding is careful not to overstate his role. “There’s no way I'd ever want to inflate that or take credit where it’s not due,” he says. But, he allows, music can be a potent aid to political struggle. “The songs


Tom Breiding (Current Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)

that I wrote were written directly for the cause, in some cases calling out CEOs by name, and it’s a powerful thing,” he says. It really stirs the emotions. It certainly made the rallies more colorful and successful.” Breiding didn’t come from a union family, and never considered himself particularly political growing up. But music was a big part of his West Virginia childhood. “[My mother] loved to dance, she would sing to us,” he says. Music was always playing in the house, and in the car. Breiding particularly connected with the music he heard on A.M. radio in the ’70s. “There were these incredible storytellers writing songs and ballads, people like Jim Croce, or even simple hits like “The Lights Went Out in Georgia” he says. “I was drawn to that storytelling aspect.” When he started seriously pursuing songwriting, he turned to the big three of heartland rock -- Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and John Melloncamp -- for inspiration. True to his influences, Breiding wrote story-driven, folk-based rock about his surroundings. But over time, “I had kind of exhausted the themes of things that came naturally to me, writing about the rivers and the hills and the railroads and the steel mills and the blue collar people,” he says. He then turned to the history of the coal miners. “My research pointed me to this incredible

history that I knew very little about. And i just started writing songs about these events and before I knew it, I realized, ‘I'm actually telling the history of the United Mine Workers.’” In August of 2018, Breiding was commissioned by the UMWA to write a song in commemoration of the 1968 Farmington Mine Disaster, a West Virginia mine explosion that killed 78. The song, “Farmington No. 9,” which opens Love Commits Me Here, is a testament to Breiding’s powers as a songwriter. He presents an unthinkably tragic story simply, carefully, without sensationalizing, and but with an emotional urgency that makes the listener feel like it happened last week. Breiding enlisted guitarist and recording engineer Daniel Marcus to play on and produce the track. “He sent me a copy of the finished product and I loved everything about it. I loved his guitar part, I loved the sound of it. It was such a special song to me that I felt like it really needed a home,” Breiding says. Using “Farmington No. 9” as his compass, he started writing songs that would fit with it on a record. “Whether it was the mixes, or the overall sound of things,” he says, “[Marcus] kind of redefined my sound.” Breiding and Marcus met serendipitously, a couple of years ago, when Marcus happened to be walking past the Leaf and Bean in

the Strip District, where Breiding performs regularly. “I heard Tom's music and I stopped to listen,” Marcus says over the phone. Seeing a second guitar on stage, he asked Breiding during a set break if he could sit in on a couple songs. Marcus laughs, remembering. “I think he was kind of hesitant because I was just some stranger. But he trusted me, and I ended up sitting in and playing some songs and we had a great time.” Having spent many years working with singer-songwriters in New York, and now in Pittsburgh, Marcus knows the genre. “I love when songwriters kind of lay it out on the table and are brutally honest, and Tom definitely has that,” he says. “He really is a folk singer in the true sense -- it’s not just pretty acoustic music, but he really has a strong message … and he’s really trying to help people, and educate people.

“I just really appreciate that, how earnestly he goes about that. And how much he cares about his message.” Love has commited Breiding to do the work of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, but he’s the first to admit that he found this path almost by accident Early on, when the UMWA invited him to perform for a rally in St. Louis, he admits, “It was kind of a selfish thing, like, ‘How cool is this? I’m going to be playing in front of three thousand coal miners and their families.’” But when he got there, “I saw these people getting off of busses with canes and walkers, some of them had oxygen tanks. And I started talking to them, and they were telling me about their ailments and how important this healthcare was. “That was it. I went home and i started to write. I wrote for the cause. It all came from the heart.”



String Machine



here are elements of Neutral Milk Hotel’s freak-folk,’90s slowcore, and of Montreal’s cinematic post-rock on Death of the Neon -- the second LP from Pittsburgh-area ensemble String Machine -- which Know Hope Records will re-release Jan. 16. But, more than that, the record is informed by a gnawing hunger: A hunger to create, yes, but also that hunger to survive, to just simply GET BY, that’s known by any artist or musician whose bank account is paltry but whose ambition is boundless. The opening verse on the first song of Death of the Neon, in fact, personifies just that struggle, with frontman David Beck lamenting about beat-up and broken-down cars. “Summer was over/ when the water in my leaky radiator froze over/ the coolant lines in my car/ I’m stranded,” Beck sings over acoustic guitar on “Engine It’s Time” before being joined by piano, bass, and honey-laced backing vocals. Ian Compton, a Butler County-based landscaping company

foreman by day who plays trumpet and electric guitar in String Machine, says the band’s existence sometimes “seems like a movie, seems like a dream.” “I grew up listening to classic rock, dreaming I’d be in Rush or Kansas,” Compton says. “Now, I’m in a band of weirdos. All I’m saying is ‘You can do it.’ You can be weird and make quality art and do it with your friends and make enough money to get tacos once in a while.” String Machine formed about four years ago from blue-collar roots in Saxonburg, which sits an hour’s drive north of Pittsburgh. There, the band – whose seven members are childhood friends and longtime collaborators – spends countless hours fleshing out a home-grown studio (now known as Loud Audio Workshop) and an even more salt of the Earth musical collective, dubbed Earthwalk. Beck, who started String Machine as a solo project and self-released a debut LP with collaborators before christening the act formally as a


septet, cites the usual suspects when asked about the new record’s sound – Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel, a touch of Bob Dylan, a hint of Neil Young. “We just work with the textures of the sound, make it travel,” said Beck, who moved recently to Pittsburgh and works at the Mattress Factory museum in North Side. “It’s honestly a problem-solving thing. When you have seven people in the band, there’s a lot of gatekeeping.” Beck is the band’s primary songwriter; he is joined by Dylan Kersten on synth and piano, Compton, Nic Temple on drums, Katie Morrow on cello, Laurel Wain on vocals, and Mike Law on bass. Philadelphia-based Know Hope Records came knocking shortly after the band self-released Death of the Neon last summer. “It’s pretty surreal – you never expect an album that you make it in your friend’s basement is gonna do this,” Beck says. “We’re very grateful. It feels very purposeful to be in the basement.” Earthwalk also is very purposeful. Beck admits parallels between his circle of 20 or 30 Pittsburgh-area artists and the 90’s-era Athens, Ga. collective Elephant 6, which included members of Neutral Milk Hotel. (Neutral Milk Hotel’s rightly lauded In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, released in 1997 when Beck was still in diapers, is very much a spiritual predecessor to Death of the Neon.) “We looked at [Elephant 6] and said, ‘That’s beautiful,’” Beck says. “We’re definitely formatted like that. These people are my family. It feels deeper than being members of a band or members of a collective.” That collective also has spawned other acts, many times intertwining themselves, member-wise, with their brother and sister acts. Compton and Wain, high-school sweethearts who live together and both play in String Machine, have a songwriting duo called Lem. Others play and record as the Appalachian Doom Gospel. “This is my family – it’s easy making music with them,” Compton says. “We’ve come together under the mindset of ‘If your songs don’t fit in

this band, go start another band.’” For Beck, String Machine is an outlet for self-expression. He frequently treks to the group’s studio in rural Butler County for six-hour recording sessions, and walks in the woods between takes. “It’s a really good environment to be creative,” he says. “I like to think of it as a writing refuge, where you can make your main focus the art, or making music.” Wain, who trained in musical theatre in New York City and sings in String Machine, says she hopes the record’s re-release this month spurs new interest in the band, and maybe sparks a next step. “I hope it leads to more shows – but I really don’t know what to expect honestly,” she says. “It’s becoming this bigger and better thing. I feel like we need to just keep trucking on.” String Machine will mark the re-release of Death of the Neon Jan. 16 with a show at Mr. Roboto alongside Mandancing and Providence’s Will Orchard. Doors are at 7 p.m. and admission is $10. “It’s coming together,” Beck said, “as a family reunion.”


MANDANCING, WILL ORCHARD. 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan.


16. Mr. Roboto Project, 5106 Penn Ave., Friendship. $10. All ages. www.therobotoproject.com

MUSIC the work as a whole did not connect with me on the same emotional level that their previous albums had. First concert attended? Fall Out Boy and The All-American Rejects at the Chevrolet Amphitheater in Pittsburgh. I was in 6th grade. It was epic. Last concert? I believe I saw my buds in A Moment in Pompeii at The Rex back in early December. Favorite concert ever? I am a hardcore fanboy for The Wonder Years. Pretty much anytime I see them is my favorite show ever, ha-ha.

Atlantic Wasteland



tlantic Wasteland is an emo/pop-punk band from Pittsburgh who have been playing in and around town since they formed in 2016. They just released their debut record entitled You’ll Never See the Bigger Picture If You’re Standing That Close via Wicked Pittsburgh Records. Keep an eye out for new dates in 2020 as I thank Sam Quatrini (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last. The first album you ever bought? Can't remember the exact one, but I know a couple of the first CDs I owned were Deep Purple Greatest Hits, Metallica (black album) and Sum 41 Does This Look Infected? Your last album bought? I think the most recent vinyl I

bought was Taking Back Sunday, Tell All Your Friends. Favorite album of all time? Woof. So hard to pick just one. As far as entire works go, Sam's Town by The Killers is one of my all-time faves. Least favorite/most disappointing album? Eek, I try to avoid publicly shaming or hating on bands just because music is such a subjective avenue. It's hard to say, but I guess if I had to pick something recent, I was not a huge fan of A Day to Remember's Bad Vibrations album. I absolutely still love that band, but coming off of Common Courtesy, BV just felt a little flat to me. I definitely still liked a few of the songs like “Paranoia”, “Justified”, & “Bad Vibrations”... but

Least favorite concert? This doesn't have anything to do with the bands playing, but a few summers ago I saw All Time Low, A Day to Remember, the All-American Rejects and Blink-182 at the Keybank Pavillion (or whatever it was called then... First Niagara? Starlake?) Anyone who is from Pittsburgh or WV knows how awful that amphitheater is. One way traffic in and out of the venue. It's an absolute mess. We sat in traffic for so long that we missed the first 2 bands. And unless you're in the pit, you're about 100 yards away from the stage and you might as well be watching the concert on YouTube because that's what it feels like. You don't feel like you're at a show when you're up in the grass there. Yuck.

Hugh’s Take: Thanks, Sam. Missing bands due to traffic at Starlake was always the gamble heading out there. I learned my lesson when we were walking through the parking lot to “Jack Straw” in ’93. Didn’t make that mistake the following night. Support Atlantic Wasteland: https://www.atlanticwasteland.com Hugh Twyman (AKA HughShows) has been documenting the Pittsburgh music scene since 2004. His website (www.hughshows.com) features a comprehensive Pittsburgh Concert Calendar, episodes of HughShowsTV, a newly launched public Pittsburgh music database, exclusive audio streams from local bands, thousands of his concert photos and his trademark First/Last interview series.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh? Pittsburgh is a big, small city. You can almost always make some weird connection to someone you meet especially in the music scene. "Oh, you're in XXXXX band? My friend's brother is the drummer, etc. etc. etc." People are well recognized and well-acclimated in the music scene around here, and it's a cool community to be a part of.






Dance nights come and go, so a gig that sticks around is worth celebrating. On Friday, Jan. 17, Second Skin celebrates five years of post-punk, deathrock, goth, synth pop and more join seasoned DJs Huck Finn, Erica Scary and A. Grey for an evening of all things dark and dancible from across the decades. (Margaret Welsh) 10 p.m. Brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave., Lawrenceville. $5. www.brilloboxpgh. com

The digital world is certainly convenient, but you’d have to be a freak to deny the satisfaction of real, flesh-and-blood (or plastic or whatever) media. On Sunday, Jan. 26 Neo Trash Video hosts the inaugural Pittsburgh Analog & Dead Media Swap at the Smiling Moose. Bring your old VHS to trade, or just stop by to browse the various art pieces, toys, games, videos, etc for sale from a variety of vendors. (Margaret Welsh) 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. 1306 E. Carson St., South Side. Free. smiling-moose.com

MUSIC AND WORDS Having spent nearly three decades releasing music under his own name, as well as Bonnie Prince Billy, Palace Brothers, Palace Music, and Palace Songs, it’s safe to say that Will Oldham is one of the most fiercely beloved songwriters of the modern age. Everyone seems to love him in their own very personal way: Ask 50 fans for their favorite Oldham tune or line and you’re bound to get 100 different answers. He’s released a collection of his lyrics, Songs of Love and Horror, and on Saturday, Jan. 18 the singer/songwriter visits White Whale Bookstore, where he’ll play a few songs, discuss his writing, and sign copies of the book. The event is first-come, first-seated. Limited reserved seats are available for those with accessibility issues. (Margaret Welsh) 6 p.m. 4754 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. whitewhalebookstore.com/events

HARDCORE From the first unforgiving line -- “Your excuses are poor like you wish you were” -- Decisions’ 2019 EP Act Fast is quick, pointed and irrisistable. The New Yorkbased hardcore band embraces a lean, dark post-punk sound but never mopes, always driving things forward with ferocious laser focus, keeping everyone on the hook. The lyrics are simple but powerful calls-to-action: Try to hear “Consumer -- “Spineless/Vapid/Commodify yourself/Clinging to your subculture to hide your apolitical self” -- without engaging in at least a little bit of self-reflection. The band comes to the Rock Room Sunday, Jan. 19. Locals Medium Ugly, Speed Plans, and Big Baby (which, full disclosure, features the Current’s own Meg Fair on drums) open.(Margaret Welsh) 8 p.m. 1054 Herron Ave., Polish Hill.

EXPERIMENTAL ROCK Best known for the Al Kooper-produced single “White Punks on Dope” -- which satirized Hollywood excess and was later covered by Motley Crue (did they get the joke?) -- the Tubes, from San Francisco, made music that was too weird and experimental for the mainstream but perhaps too stripped-down and A.M. radio- funky to be considered properly punk. But fans of, say, Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart got it, and the band -- who also boasted one of the most theatrical and entertaining stage-shows of the era -- enjoyed a cult following. Original members Fee Waybill, Prairie Prince, Roger Steen and Rick Gator Anderson are stick kicking it together all these years later: The band comes to Jergels on Friday, Jan. 24. Rod Wilkins & the L.O.C band and The Wurms open. (Margaret Welsh) 8 p.m. 103 Slade Lane, Warrendale. $32-47. www.jergels.com 12 | JANUARY 14, 2020 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT


SOUL-ROCK Listening to AJ Haynes of the Seratones sing is a borderline religious experience. Her rich, soulful voice is comfortable in just about any range. She can get low and seductive, high and playful and everywhere else in between. The frontwoman of this Shreveport, Louisiana outfit is surrounded by talented musicians who are all on display on the groups latest record, Power.” This record is just as soulful as the band’s 2016 debut, Get Gone. But in the debut, you could hear the band’s roots growing up in the city’s DIY punk scene. Power is clearly funk-influenced and is a breakout record for the group. So if someone asks you where you’re headed on Jan. 27, don’t tell them you’re going to Club Cafe, tell them you’re going to church. Because when you hear this band take off, you’re likely to let out a spiritual “God Damn!!!” (Charlie Deitch) Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. 56 S. 12th St., South Side $12 . clubcafelive.com


Eicher 7 p.m. Club Cafe, 56 S. 12th St., South Side. clubcafelive.com



Inferi, Brand of Sacrifice, Place Blame 5:30 p.m. Crafthouse Stage & Grill. 5024 Curry Rd., Baldwin. druskyentertainment.com

Pittsburgh's best DJs, the event also serves as a wintter clothng drive 8 p.m. Thunderbird Café & Music Hall, 4053 Butler St., Lawrenceville. roxianlive.com

METAL With Signs of the Swarm,


NEW WAVE The legendary 1980s new wave outfit is joined by Bow Wow Wow and 6 p.m. Jergels. 203 Slade Ave., Warrendale. druskyentertainment.com



Derek Andersen and Scott Land bring their "earth-shaking drops" and unique "Heaven Trap" sound to Stage AE. 7 p.m. Stage AE, 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. livenation.com


CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN An annual who's who of contemprary christian artists including Crowder, Andy Mineo, Passion, Red, Austin French and more. 6 p.m. PPG Paintd Arena. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uotown. 2020.jamtour.com


ROCK Mid-90's rock outfit. The

Delaneys and Planet Paul open. 6 p.m. Jergels. 203 Slade Ave., Warrendale. druskyentertainment.com



British-born musician is in th first leg of his U.S. headling tour. With Starbenders and Brian Genovesi 7 p.m. Crafthouse Stage & Grill. 5024 Curry Rd., Baldwin. druskyentertainment.com


SINGER/SONGWRITER The season six winer of The Voice is joined by Youngstown's own JS

DJ/HIP-HOP Headlined by one of


COUNTRY Troubador from Northern Kentucky. With Chris Rattie and the New Rebels, Dylan, Rooke, Dan Stonerock 7:30 a.m. Hard Rock Cafe, 230 W Station Square Dr,, Station Square. druskyentertainment.com

JANUARY 23, 2020 J A N U A R Y 1 9, 2 0 2 0 GREENSKY BLUE GRASS

BLUEGRASS Greensky Blue-

grass, known for mixing rock’n’roll with high energy bluegrass, hits town touring behind their new record, All for Money." 8 p.m. Club Cafe. 56 S. 12th St., South Sice. www.clubcafelive.com


POP/FUNK from Miami. Tim Atlas opens 8 p.m. Thunderbird Café & Music Hall, 4053 Butler St. Lawrenceville. roxianlive.com


ALT-INDIE Released third record

last May. Left her sanfranisco home as a reen to immerse herself in New Yoork's music sceme. 8 p.m. Club Cafe, 56 S. 12th St., South Sde. clubcafelive.com

JANUARY 21, 2020 AJR

POP Brothers Adam, Jack and

Ryan Met play a rescheduled show fro 2019 8 p.m. UPMC Events Center, 6001 University Blvd, Moon. livenation. com



tiinstrumentalist and former frontwoman of the Nocturnals 7 p.m. Roxian Theatre, , 425 Chartiers Ave.,McKees Rocks. livenation. com


punk/garage to town with local openers. 9 p.m. Gooski's. 3117 Brereton St., Polish Hill. 412-352-3479


JAM BAND This South Bend

Indiana groupwith a kitchen-sink approach to its sound, incoporating rock, metal, funk, jazz, blues, reggae, electronic, bluegrass, and folk. 6 p.m. Stage AE, 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. livenation.com

LIVE KAROKE The Emo Band's

Live Band Emo and Pop-punk Karaole SIng all of your favorite EMO hits live on stage 10 p.m. Spirit Hall, 242 51st St., Lawrenceville. spiritpgh.com


MID-FI POP Virginia rockers

appearing with D.C.-based Scorpio and locals Swampwalk and Swither 7 p.m. Roboto, 5106 Penn Ave., Garfield. facebook.com/robotoproject

JANUARY 25, 2020


COUNTRY American Idol run-

nerup and Dancing with the Stars Alum brings her brand of po country 6 p.m. Jergels, 203 Slade Ave., Warrendale. druskyentertainment.com


ALT INDIE Pittsburgh's own

headlines with Back Alley Sound and Garter Shake 8:30 p.m. The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls, 400 Lincoln Ave 2nd Floor, Millvale. mrsmalls.com


SHOCK ROCK This New Jersey

hard rock outfit plays with opener, Transcendance 7:30 p.m. Hard Rock Cafe, 230 W Station Square Dr., Station Square. druskyentertainment.com



lian-based, grammy nominated singer/songwriter/guitarist got her start in punk outfits before going solo. 8 p.m. Carnegie Lecture Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. trustarts.org


INDIE-FOLK Albany Folk Duo

with Don Srange and Outside Eliza 6:30 p.m. Club Cafe, 56 S. 12th St., South Sde. clubcafelive.com


INDIE-POP With Retirement

Party and Macseal 7 p.m. Roboto, 5106 Penn Ave., Garfield. facebook.com/robotoproject


JAZZ Sax and drum ensemble headline this evening of live music with C. Scott Ensemble and Daddy Dom & the Flavor Pals. 9 p.m. 3577 Studios. 3577 Bigelow Blvd., Polish Hill. 7247716554 PITTSBURGH CURRENT | JANUARY 14, 2020 | 13

MUSIC We want your Event Planning an upcoming show, event, auditions, community gathering or whatever? Get your free listing in our print and online editions. Fill out our online form at pittsburghcurrent. com or send an email to Listings Clerk Makinley Magill at makinley@pittsburghcurrent. com or listings@pittsburghcurrent.com character’s darkness, insurrection, and eventual fall from grace as conceived by John Milton in Books V and VI of Paradise Lost. Two nights 8 p.m. Roxian Theatre, 425 Chartiers Ave.,McKees Rocks,. www. thmendelssohn.org


HIP HOP/CRUNGE/TRAP The Runaway Tour with Swae Lee and Tyla Yaweh 8 p.m. PPG Paints Arena, 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. ppgpaintsarena.com

FEBRUARY 25, 2020

Jan. 28, The Sea The Sea; Below, Jan. 27: Courtney Barnett

J A N U A R Y 2 9, 2 0 2 0 CHUCK PROPHET

ALT-COUNTRY Spent the 80s playing psychedellic rock with Green on Red, now playing with more of a folk-rock edge. 8 p.m. Club Cafe, 56 S. 12th St., South Sde. clubcafelive.com


FOLK ROCK with special guests: Mt. Joy and JS Ondara 8 p.m. PPG Paints Arena, 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. ppgpaintsarena.com



ROCK OPERA The Mendelssohn

Choir of Pittsburgh presents the world premiere of a new, commissioned work by former rock drummer and founder of The Police, Stewart Copeland, who has been responsible for some of the film world’s most innovative scores. Written for chorus and rock orchestra, Satan’s Fall delves into the title 14 | JANUARY 14, 2020 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT


The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh presents The Greatest Generation: An American Oratorio, an homage to the American family at war. This oratorio combines the popular tunes from the World War II era with new original compositions and arrangements. TBA Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum, 4141 Fifth Ave., Oakland. www.thmendelssohn.org


Carmen Machado




ow do we talk about domestic abuse? How can we get inside an emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship to understand it? What if the relationship is between two women, with a paucity of such stories and histories to draw upon? How, then, do you write about this kind of hidden abuse? Send a woman whose writing is so daring that she won the Shirley Jackson award for her first collection of stories in 2017. In her bracing and elegant memoir, "In the Dream House" (Graywolf Press, 2019), Carmen Maria Machado weaves her mastery of science fic-

tion, fantasy and essay through her first person account of an abusive relationship, creating something that is both dazzling and harrowing. The memoir is impossible to put down. It was also a book which demanded to be written, though reliving and revisiting this hurt-filled chapter in her life is a painful grind, even now. "I didn't really want to do it," Machado laughed when she spoke to the Current via telephone from her home in Philadelphia. "It was very intense. It was very hard to do, but I think I needed to get it out of my system. I needed to get this done." Machado earned her MFA from

the Iowa Writers' Workshop and has been published in The New Yorker, Granta, and Lightspeed Magazine. Her collection of stories, 'Her Body and Other Parties' (2017), which she won the Shirley Jackson, was a finalist for the National Book Award. The writing is wild and fantastical, the work of a woman unafraid to veer into untamed, mad territories and use horror to uncover hard truths. In this memoir, Machado moves through memory, as through a fever dream, feeling her way along, capturing snapshots and scenes of the relationship, dropping the reader into intimate and painful spaces. She allows the reader to feel lost with her as she goes in search of a queer history and her place in it. "Trying to articulate both thinking about queer history and thinking about the history of this subject matter (which isn't talked about very much within the community)," she said. "When you combine that with the fact that emotional and psychological abuse can be difficult to pin down and articulate. And it isn't given the serious treatment as physical abuse. Trying to make a book out of all those pieces that are just moving on you constantly -- it was a very strange challenge." There were stretches when she was furiously researching, academia and poetry and legal documents. She watched the 1944 classic film, 'Gaslight' (starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer) about a half dozen times. Then there were intense stretches of writing and long periods when it was a bit like assembling a mosaic, as she moved pieces around from here to there and back to get just the right order. It is flat-out gorgeous prose. She folds all of this research -- the film tropes and the academic work of queer theorists, the lessons from fairytales like Bluebeard and the court records documenting domestic violence and murder within the context of lesbian relationships -seamlessly into her own story. "We deserve to have our wrongdoing represented as much as our heroism, because when we refuse wrongdoing as a possibility for a group of people, we refuse their humanity. That is to say, queers -- real-life ones -- do not deserve

representation, protection, and rights because they are morally pure or upright as people. They deserve those things because they are human beings, and that is enough," she writes. Machado gets into every nook and cranny and dusty corner to explore gay history and it's erasure. Is it even erasure if it was ignored and deliberately obliterated? It is hard to find. There are gaps where people simply do not see themselves. Queers are denied that history. This work is an essential queer history told without the distortion of the straight gaze. "That was part of the inspiration for the project -- trying to figure out how to -- what to do about the fact that when I went looking for these stories, when I went looking for these accounts, they were very hard to find. There hadn't been a lot of treatment to -- this is true of the love stories and the beauty and also the pain, right? The denial of those kinds of stories is a kind of violence -- it hurts. It hurts a community. And that just ends up becoming so much of the central part of my project."


will speak at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland on Monday, January 20 at 7:30 pm.



Derek Hughes performs live at Liberty Magic on January 12. (Current Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)




or Derek Hughes, stand-up comedy, acting and magic are more connected than one would think. “Being a magician is acting and stand-up is acting,” he says, “when the stand-up is on stage, they're acting their persona.” Hughes brings his funny, largerthan-life persona to his residency, “Bag of Tricks,” running from now until Feb. 16 at Liberty Magic. Hughes first became interested in magic as a kid in Minnesota, where he swapped a “messy, stinky”

chemistry set for a friend’s magic kit, called “The Hundred Greatest Tricks in the Last 50 Years.” The back of the magic kit box described the Magic Castle, a Los Angeles nightclub for magicians and magic enthusiasts. But for Hughes, the back of the box told a prophecy. “I've been nominated now for Stage Magician of the Year by the members of the Magic Castle. It's just funny, the seeds that are planted in a child's mind and how even without it being an intentional goal, it's funny how life's path led me to that place


that I sort of envisioned on the bottom of that box as a child,” he says. Growing up in a Minnesota trailer park, the son of a single mother, Hughes also always had a sense of humor. “Levity has always been a big part of my personal expression. [It was] not the most positive environment from an outside perspective. But as a kid, I didn't see it that way,” he says. Hughes’ mother would sneak him into the Rib Tickler, a Downtown Minneapolis club, which featured a stand-up comic and headlining ma-

gician every week. The 14-year-old Hughes continued to cultivate the seeds that had been planted when he was younger. “My interest is magic, but I was also turned onto these incredible stand-up comics,” he says. Hughes’ magic mentors told him to study acting to help the budding magician improve his craft. After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in theater, Hughes moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting full-time. Despite receiving steady work as

ART getting up in front of an audience as often as possible and powerfully affecting them as best as we can. It's not a difficult path if it's your only path,” he says. “If it's your only path than it's just the path.” For his six-week residency at Liberty Magic, Hughes hopes to make audiences feel the same way he felt when he discovered magic. “I think standup is very important as a sort of a vehicle for exploring the human condition,” he says. But, for Hughes, it’s all about leaning into the philosophy that guides him. “I love the moment where it feels like I'm failing. It feels like I may be out of control, and then the magic happens anyway,” he says.


in BAG OF TRICKS. Various Times. Now until Feb. 16. 811 Liberty Ave., Downtown. 412-456-6666 or www.trustarts.org.

Derek Hughes. "Current Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk"

an actor, Hughes felt restless, uneasy and depressed. “It hit me that I wasn't performing in front of live audiences anymore, so I set the intention, ‘Okay, I'm going to get up at least three times a week and perform at different clubs and comedy venues around L.A.,” he says. Soon, Hughes received more comedy gigs than acting jobs, and began to transition to stand-up full-time. However, he hadn’t completely added magic to the mix just yet. “For a handful of years, I would book myself at clubs doing just stand-up to develop that voice and work on that muscle. Then, I would integrate that material into my own show, going from stand-up material into original, amazing magic and then back into hilarious autobiographical standup, sort of weaving them together back and forth,” he says. Now, Hughes has performed his magic and stand-up act on MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, the CW’s “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” and appeared in “Captain America: The

Winter Soldier” and Marvel's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” He’s currently a consulting producer on TRUtv’s, “The Carbonaro Effect” and was a finalist on season 10 of NBC’s America’s Got Talent. Hughes says living by a “yes, and” philosophy and not resting on laurels has allowed him career success. For example, Hughes never sought out to be an author, but leaning into a joke inspired him to write a children’s book, “Humpty Dumpty Lived Near a Wall,” just released by Penguin Random House. Hughes says that each opportunity he’s given leads into another, similar to how he came across magic in his childhood. “I'm really into setting goals, but they tend to be more short term. Magic has led to acting gigs and acting gigs have led to magic gigs, and it sort of unfolds as I strive for excellence in each opportunity that I'm presented with,” he says. However, Hughes says making it was never his intention when becoming a stand-up magician. “I think the intention has to be

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JANUARY 19 The Carnegie Museum of Art opens its doors for the first of their Mindful Mornings of 2020. Those 18 years and older can bring a yoga mat and comfortable clothes to participate in yoga, restorative movement and a guided tour of the galleries. 10 a.m. 4400 Forbes Ave. $20 for students and members, $25 general admission. 412-622-3131 or cmoa.org/event/mindful-morning



Take close toed shoes to Ace Axe Throwing Center for an hour-and-a-half painting session followed by an hour of axe throwing. The event is in partnership with Painting With a Twist and welcomes participants 16 and up. If under 18, parent supervision is required along with signing a waiver. Those old enough to drink can enjoy the full bar at Ace Axe Throwing. 7 p.m. Jan. 15. 145 E. 8th Ave. Homestead. $45. paintingwithatwist.com

The Mattress Factory hosts their annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day with handson art activities, refreshments and music by DJ Wavy Bunch Sound, a local duo that encompasses a variety of genres created in the African Diaspora, with an emphasis on Afro-Caribbean sounds. 1 p.m. 500 Sampsonia Way. Free. mattress.org/mlkday


City of Asylum @ Alphabet City continues their Latinx & Proud series with readings by Carlos Andrés Gómez, Diannely Antigua, Juno Nascimento and Rosa Iris Alvarez. The event is free with reservation. 7 p.m. 40 W. North Ave. Free. 412-435-1110 or kzeigler@cityofasylumpittsburgh.org

Pittsburgh-based science journalist Chip Walter joins the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures series at Carnegie Lecture Hall. Walter’s latest book, Immortality Inc., explores the latest developments in research on aging and why scientists are taking on the task. The event is free with registration, and a book signing will follow the lecture. 6 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave. Free. 412-622-8866 or pittsburghlectures. org/lectures/chip-walter Come enjoy some local artists or sign up to perform at The Oaks Theater’s Open Jam Night. House Band 8mm Lead will headline the event, and sign-ups begin at 7 p.m. The event is free to participate for performers and listeners. 7 p.m. 310 Allegheny River Blvd. Oakmont. Free. theoakstheater.com

JANUARY 17 Beethoven fans can enjoy Part XI of the composer’s complete piano sonata cycle as performed by Walter Morales, concert pianist and faculty member at Chatham University. The concert, held at the James Laughlin Music Center, is free. 4 p.m. Chapel Hill Rd. Free. rovkah@chatham.edu


JANUARY 22 Planned Parenthood of Western PA partners with Threadbare Cider for cocktails and trivia to commemorate Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court Case. Prizes will be given out. 5 p.m. 1291 Spring Garden Ave. Free admission. ppwp. org or 412-322-5100

JANUARY 23 Award-winning documentary Dosed comes to Row House Cinema. After the screening, the Pittsburgh Psychedelic Club will hold a Q&A session. 6:30 p.m. 4115 Butler St. $13. rowhousecinema.com

JANUARY 18 Women’s March Pittsburgh holds a march outside the City-County Building in partnership with Indivisible Pittsburgh to protest war and the current administration. 11 a.m. 414 Grant St. Free. indivisiblepittsburgh.com BikePGH’s Women and Non-Binary Program holds a workshop to inform cyclists how to dress for the elements and ride safely when biking in the winter, hosted by Kat Gregor and Sarah Quinn. 12 p.m. 188 43rd St. Free. 412-325-4334 or bikepgh.org Dosed


ART Pittsburgh Black Film Network meets at Arnold’s Tea to bring creatives and like-minded people together. 6 p.m. 502 E. Ohio St. Free. jaydigitialmedai.com or arnoldsteapittsburgh.com

JANUARY 24 Bottoms Up Bingo, at The Oaks Theater, combines drag and daubers for a night of fun. Participants purchase tickets for five games and can enter a 50/50 raffle to benefit the Borough of Oakmont Volunteer Fire Department. Prizes will be given out to the winners of all five games. 6:30 p.m. 310 Allegheny River Blvd. Oakmont. $15. 888-718-4253 or theoakstheater.com

JANUARY 25 Yoga and art flow together at the Carnegie Museum of Art at their Yoga Paint Parties. Participants attend an hour-long session that ends with an original painting that captures their yoga style. Ticket price includes all materials. 11 a.m. 4400 Forbes Ave. $50 for members, $55 general admission. 412-622-3131 or cmoa.org/event

JANUARY 26 LeeAnn Dance, director of My Dear Children, joins Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh at Row House Cinema for a screening and Q&A session. Dance’s documentary is the first of its kind to cover the pogroms following the Russian Revolution, what would only be a precursor to the Holocaust. 3 p.m. 4115 Butler St. Free for students and Holocaust survivors, $18 general admission. hcofpgh.org/ my-dear-children Parents can bring their 18-months to 3-year-old kids for a First Ballet Class at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. This demo includes a tour of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s studios and a Q&A session with Children’s Division Coordinator Kaila Lewis. Cost is per child, and early registration by Jan. 14 gets participants a discounted ticket. 10 a.m. 2900 Liberty Ave. $40 per child. pbt.org/ my-first-ballet-class-workshop

JANUARY 27 The Black Cat Market hosts a Sexual Assault Survivors Coffeehouse, where victims of assault can find support and resources from members of their community as well as Pittsburgh Action Against Rape. Drinks are available for purchase, and attendees may also purchase unlimited time in the cat room for $5. 7 p.m. 5171 Butler St. Free. 412-408-2218 or blackcatmarketpgh.com



JANUARY 16, 2020

FILM The Beach Bum (2019) with


burgh-based science journalist Chip Walter’s new book with National Geographic, Immortality, Inc., entwines fascinating conversations about life, death, aging, and the future of the human race, even as it peels back the science and personal stories of how and why these scientists are tackling the problem. 6 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Carnegie Library Lecture Hall. www. pittsburghlectures.org

JANUARY 17, 2020 SPOKEN WORD The fourth

annual Poetry Unplugged is a night of spoken word and music featuring artists from around the country using the life and work of Martin Luther King as inspiration 8 p.m. 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown. August Wilson African American Cultural Center. aacc-awc.org

STAGE Grist From the Mill. Off

the Wall Productions presents this new work created and performed from Pittsburgh playwright and actor Lisa Brennan. Through Jan. 18. Times Vary 25 W Main St, Carnegie. Carnegie Stage. insideoffthewall. com

JANUARY 18, 2020 FILM Desolation Center is the

previously untold story of a series of early ’80s guerrilla music and art performance happenings in Southern California that are recognized to have inspired Burning Man, Lollapalooza and Coachella. Through Jan. 22. Times Vary 809 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Harris Theater. trustarts.org

FILM Forlorning is a suicide

awareness film which tells the story of Neal Bateman as he struggles with the complications of grief. Register for limited seating 11 a.m. 76 Federal Drive, Penn Hills. Penn Hills Cinema. https://www. eventbrite.com/e/forlorning-suicide-awareness-short-film-tick-

special guest Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy). At the Harris Theater, Oldham will present the rebellious stoner comedy The Beach Bum, starring Matthew McConaughey 9:15 p.m. 809 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Harris Theater. trustarts.org

JANUARY 23, 2020 STAGE Pittsburgh Musical The-

ater presents the iconic 1960's protest musical, "Hair, through Feb. 2 7:30 p.m. 327 S Main St., West End.. Gargaro Theater. www.pittsburghmusicals.com

STAGE Cirque du Soleil's OVO

is teeming with life. Insects work, play, fight and look for love in a non-stop riot of energy in motion. Their home is filled with biodiversity, beauty, action and moments of quiet emotion Times Vary 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. PPG Paints Arena. ppgpaintsarena. com

STAGE Pittsburgh Public Theater presents the classic Menken and Ashman musical, Little Shop of Horrors. Times Vary 621 Penn Ave., Downtown. O'Reilly Theater. ppt.org

JANUARY 24, 2020 VISUAL ARTS Gallery Crawl

in the Cultural District 5:30 p.m.. . trustarts.org

DANCE Take an enlightening

journey through 5,000 years! SHEN YUN’S unique artistic vision expands theatrical experience into a multi-dimensional, inspiring journey through one of humanity’s greatest treasures. Through Jan. 25. Times Vary 237 7th St., Downtown. Benedum Center trustarts.org


EVENTS JANUARY 25, 2020 COMEDY Ari Shaffir 7 p.m. 425 Chartiers Ave.. Roxian Theatre. roxianlive.com

OPERA Beethoven's Fidelio is

the story of one woman's heroic struggle to rescue her husband from political imprisonment is the story in Beethoven's only opera presented by the Pittsburgh Symphony. Through Jan. 26 Times Vary 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. Heinz Hall. pittsburghsymphony.org

OPERA Pittsburgh Opera pres-

ents Handel's baroque masterpiece, Alcia. ThroughFeb. 2 Times Vary 111 9th St., Downtown. Capa Theater. pittsburghopera.org

JANUARY 30, 2020 STAGE Two Mormons meet Ethel Merman in the Book of Merman.. Through March 8. trustarts.org Times Vary 655 Penn Ave., Downtown. Greer Cabaret Theater. trCOMEDY Tammy Pescatelli. 8 p.m. 166 E. Bridge St., Waterfront. Pittsburgh Improv. improv.com/ Pittsburgh

JANUARY 31, 2020 ustarts.org STAGE The Skeptic's Guide to the

Universe. A live recording of the weekly 80-minute science podcast that looks at the newest scientific discoveries and explains them in laymen's terms 7 .p.m. 1602 E Carson St., South Side. Rex. druskyentertainment.com

FEBRUARY 3, 2020 LIT/LECTURES Dr. Dyson has

authored nearly twenty books on subjects such as the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. in April 4, 1968, Malcolm X, Nas’s debut album Illmatic, Tupac, Marvin Gaye, and Hurricane Katrina’s devastating and long lasting effects.

January 18: Desolation Center 7 p.m. 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown. August Wilson African American Cultural Center. aacc-awc.org

FEBRUARY 4, 2020 STAGE Miss SaigonPNC Broadway in Pittsburgh presents a new Touring production of the Tony Award winning musical. Through Feb. 9 Times Vary 237 7th St., Downtown. Benedum Center. trustarts.org

FEBRUARY 6, 2020 STAGE In the new work from

Pittsburgh writer Phillip Wesley Gates, Somewhere in the dark, a queer cyborg coven is performing a ritual for the future of humankind.


FEBRUARY 7, 2020 COMEDY Stephen Lynch 7 p.m. 310 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont Oaks Theater. druskyentertainment. com

DANCE Bodiography welcomes

guest artists of Buglisi Dance Theatre to the stage as well as guest choreographers Virginie Mecene and Ze’eva Cohen for new and existing works. Thru Feb. 8 8 p.m. 101 6th St., Downtown. Byham Theater. trustarts.org


Along with a free Mimosa and a lunch buffet, enjoy performances from Miss V, Tootsie Snyder, Virena Peppers, Calipso and Alexa Killer at the Goddess Drag Brunch. 11 a.m. 177 40th St., Lawrenceville. Over Eden at TRYP . https://tinyurl. com/goddessbrunchpgh

JANUARY 23, 2020 NETWORKING See what

Pittsburgh Young Professionals has planned for 2020. A great opportunity to get to know the incoming Board of Directors and the organization as a whole. 6 p.m. 1300 Wood Street, Wilkinsburg. The Sleeping Octopus. www. pyp.org

Feb. 4-9: Miss Saigon

Winter 2020 Friday, January 24 5:30 – 10 pm


Complex Meshes at Wood Street Galleries



crawl after dark COVER CHARGES MAY APPLY








Chef Kevin Sousa inside the ABC Beverage Club




illtop is a figurative name bestowed upon the communities that sit atop the South Side Slopes, before Pittsburgh dips back down to its final, most southern neighborhoods. A walk around Pittsburgh’s Hilltop reveals neighborhoods that aren't in transition so much as they are retrofitting. There is no new construction; no cranes are sweeping into the sky to take down the old and sweep in

BY BETHANY RUHE - PITTSBURGH CURRENT ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER BETHANY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM the new. Hilltop includes one sort-of outlier, the self-contained Borough of Mt. Oliver, and several city neighborhoods, including Arlington. The intersection of Warrington Avenue and Arlington Avenue is as good a place as any to see the changes that have been happening. If you look down Warrington, you can see the expansion of Alla Famiglia, arguably one of Pittsburgh’s most iconic Italian

restaurants, a new deli, a curiosity shop and a vegan restaurant. Turn your head to the left and you see Black Forge Coffee and the Pittsburgh Police Zone 3 police station. But right there, tucked in between two policeonly parking lots, is an unassuming wedge-shaped brick building. In a previous life it was known as St. George Lyceum, a social club for men. To the extent it was known for any-

thing, it was known to be a place to grab a drink, smoke a cig, and shoot a game of pool. It’s membership dwindled to a few loan die hards, and the difficult decision was made to close in 2017. When you walk in, you are greeted immediately with a large, rectangular bar, wood panelling, and enough nostalgia to drown in. So. of course it’s here that Kevin Sousa has decided to write the next


FOOD chapter in his colorful, productive and wholly unpredictable career. Sousa has a long history of innovating the Pittsburgh culinary scene, most notably with Salt of the Earth and his most recent project, Braddock’s Superior Motors. He’s weathered some ups and downs, both personally and professionally, often in the public eye, as innovators tend to do. After all of that, he’s ready for something different. He wants to tackle a dive bar. He is going to take this former social club, with its mismatched wood paneling, its threadbare carpet and wobbly tables, and transform it into the Arlington Beverage Club. Because sometimes, he says, “You find a project that looks fun and do it because it looks fun, not because you want or need to prove something.” But Sousa didn’t go looking for this kind of fun; it found him. Joey Calloway owns RE360, a real estate firm deeply embedded in the Hilltop neighborhood. Calloway grew up there. He knew the people, he knew the potential and he knew who to bring in to help make things happen. He approached Sousa soon after Superior Motors opened, but the timing wasn’t right. Superior still required too much of his time and attention. Fast forward a year, and Sousa was talking to his long-time partner, Chris Clark. Things were going really, really well. Now, they thought, might be a good time to find their next project. Calloway took Clark and Sousa to visit a few sites, but nothing real-

ly sparked Sousa’s interest. Then, as they were leaving, Calloway mentions a building they recently purchased. “He opens the door and Chris and I walked in... and we both just looked at each other and said, ‘yep. This is it.’ We didn’t even know we wanted to do this.” It was run down. It had mismatched wood paneling. It looked like every 1980s grandparents basement. It was the VFW, the Moose and the Slovac Club rolled into one. It was perfect. Sousa admits, “No one could have conceptualized this.’ But once they were there, the vibe took over, and the rest of the story just sort of wrote itself. “I’m not trying to replicate something to be ironic,” Sousa says. “This is what I grew up in. I never thought this is what I wanted to do, but when I walked in, it hit me. This could actually work. It was exciting.” Immediately he thought of an elevated bar food concept. While there are zero plans to even touch the main floor (and he means this, down to the old tape on the wall), a stateof-the art kitchen is being installed downstairs. “Bar food will be at the core. We will still deliver what’s expected of us; fresh, local, seasonal ingredients, but also some bar classics,” he says. “An example, a hot sausage sandwich where we made every element here. Or chicken parm that’s on a bed of pasta that we made here. We want everything to be accessible and relatable to this space in some way, shape or form, even if it’s in the

abstract.” When asked what else he might envision in the space, Sousa points to the perfectly rectangular bar. “This reminds me of a sushi bar,” he says as he gestures around. “I feel like we can do a night where maybe it’s me up here, and we are doing a nigiri sushi night with a sake special.” They’re also finalizing the building permits for an all-seasons deck in the back, and he’s making mental lists of musical acts he’d like to see. Metal and old-school hip hop are at the top of his mind right now. Sousa is letting loose now in a way we might not have yet seen in his career. “For years I’ve battled this word in my food, in cooking, and that word is ‘authentic.’ I never tried to do a specific ethnicity of food. I never really tried to connect to my Sicilian roots, or my Hungarian roots,” he says. “If I tried to do something, usually it was a take on something, or I’d borrow ingredients from other cultures. So I’ve always embraced the ‘not-authentic’ about something. This is authentic without me fucking with it at all. “It’s exciting to do something that is counter-intuitive. To break the old habits of taking an idea for a dish that’s born in tradition and changing it and twisting it and playing with food a little, but [rather] create a fine-dining experience that’s memorable because of what I did to the food. This place is memorable because of the place.” Who would have thought that after everything Sousa has done and been

My vision for 2020

through, this is what it took to bring him home? A dingy, dark, slightly musty old social club, hanging on to the edge of the city? And you either get it or you don’t. Sousa is unconcerned. It’s the shoulder shrug of a person who has discovered work can be fun, and gee, they hope you like it. They decided to host a New Year’s Eve party to introduce the Arlington Beverage Club to Pittsburgh wIth just one week’s notice. For a holiday that has most people making their plans more than a month in advance, with very little notice they attracted a crowd of more than 300, a testament to Sousa’s ability to draw a buzz. While the crowds strained the limits of the ancient plumbing. The excitement was palpable and people got the concept. It was home, right down to do the chip-chopped Isaly’s ham BBQ in the crockpot. As they ramp up to their planned May opening, Sousa looks around the space. “We will save the weird Christmas decorations that were already here and use them next year.” He gestures to a large banner hung on a wall near the pool table. It reads, “Happy New Year 2000!” festooned with a party hat and noise maker. “That’s probably the last New Year’s Eve party they had here before ours, 2000.” Sousa points out that it was also the year of Y2K. “The world didn’t end. We are still here.”

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I’m a 26-year-old bisexual woman with a history of self-harm. It hasn’t been much of an issue for the past few years, but my sex life has improved a lot in that time. I realized that I am quite submissive and masochistic, and I have found a wonderful Dominant partner who I’ve gotten to explore that kink with in a positive and healthy way. Last night, I watched the movie Secretary, and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character is someone who self-harms but stops when she begins a Dom/sub relationship with her boss. Obviously this film is flawed and not exactly a great guideline for healthy BDSM relationships. (The power dynamic! The lack of consent! That weird come scene!) However, I did find myself relating to her character and am now questioning my motives for pursuing this kind of sexual relationship. I worry that I may be unintentionally using the pain that I lovingly experience from my partner as a replacement for the pain I used to experience from my bad habits. Or am I using BDSM as a form of harm reduction? Is it rational to even compare these two things? Seeking Careful Advice Regarding Recent Emotional Discovery “I completely get where SCARRED is coming from,” said Lina Dune, the creator of Ask a Sub (askasub.com). “You’re discovering your kinks, and then the culture comes in with a not-entirely-accurate film or hot take, and it can taint your self-discovery.” Dune is known as a “fairy submother” to her thousands of followers on Instagram, where she regularly posts about the D/s lifestyle and frequently highlights red flags that newbies to the kink scene may miss. (A Dom who insists he “doesn’t negotiate” with subs? Run away.) While still relatively young herself, Dune has been active in the kink scene for many years and identifies as a 24/7 lifestyle sub.

“There’s a difference between self-harm and what SCARRED is doing with her Dom in a consensual, rational, measured environment with safe words in place,” said Dune. “And it’s telling that she didn’t write in to say, ‘Oh my god, I’m using D/s to self-harm!’ Rather, she’s worried she might be unintentionally or unknowingly engaging in some form of self-harm.” While the fictional character played by Maggie Gyllenhaal stops engaging in acts of self-harm after entering into a D/s relationship with the fictional character played by James Spader, SCARRED, you don’t want to overinterpret that fictional narrative. Meaning, while the film suggested there was causal relationship between Gyllenhaal’s character entering into a D/s relationship and no longer engaging in acts of selfharm, that doesn’t mean the same is true for you. “The culture infantilizes us all when it comes to owning our sexual desires—and that’s especially the case for women,” said Dune. “The message is: ‘You don’t know what you’re getting into’ or ‘You don’t realize the effect this is having.’ But if there’s one thing SCARRED is an expert on, it’s herself. It’s not like she’s in a trance when she’s with her Dom—no matter what the movies want us to believe about D/s relationships—which means she’s consciously choosing this for herself, and it feels healthy and good. Our bodies don’t usually lie, and I’d be willing to bet that self-harm did not feel that way.” But even if it turns out you’re right—even if, worst-case scenario, joyful consensual kink in the context of an intimate connection with another person is somehow a replacement for solo acts of self-harm that isolated you—it could still be a good thing. Dune suggests that you explore your feelings with a kink-positive


therapist, and I want to second that. “From my perspective, it looks like SCARRED may have been manufacturing her own version of exposure therapy, which some somatic-based psychologists have suggested is exactly what negotiated, consent-based kink play can provide,” said Dune. “For example, a person with a fear of being powerless may find it helpful to experiment with powerlessness in small, controlled doses in the context of a structured, negotiated BDSM situation. Looking a fear in the eye and then being able to back away from it at will and end with a cuddle and a check-in with your play partner can make you feel more powerful, not less. So if SCARRED can consciously work through this with a therapist and her Dom, this BDSM relationship has the potential to be very healing, just as long as she maintains her autonomy within it.” Follow Lina Dune on Twitter and Instagram @AskASub. I’m a 26-year-old straight man, and I haven’t gotten laid in a while. I never actually got much to begin with. I lost my virginity late (age 23, also my first kiss) and had bottled up quite a bit of frustration until then (still got a lot of that left over). I also suffer from crippling social anxiety—so crippling, in fact, that I can’t even get to know people online, which rules out online dating. I have recently come to the realization that the only way for me to ever get better is to stop wanting to get laid so much. Which. Is. Hard. The first step is learning to be okay with things as they are, which I am making progress with. But sex is everywhere: TV, movies, magazines. On the few occasions I do get to spend time with people, sex comes up a lot. People seriously complain to me about not having “gotten any” for two months, and that’s not enough for them. I’ve heard people describe themselves as “late bloomers” because they had their first time at 17 or 19. I feel like such a freak. I have a male roommate who frequently has women over. I hear them going at it through the wall and get panic attacks because of it. I need some advice on how to be okay with not getting any, not really having gotten much to begin with, and just gener-

ally being nervous and inexperienced and self-conscious and lonely. I know that’s a lot, but perhaps you have some valuable thoughts for me. After-School Special Since there’s no way to strip the sex scenes and sexual references from every TV show you watch, magazine you read, or conversation you have, ASS, working on yourself is going to be a far better use of your time than demanding a remade/ desexed world. And by “working on yourself,” of course I mean “getting your ass into therapy.” Whether or not you ever get laid again, getting professional help to address your frustrations and social anxiety is going to improve your life. (It will up the chances that you’ll get laid again, ASS, but no promises.) And take heart: For every letter likes yours I get from a straight guy, ASS, I get an identical letter from a straight woman. Which means there are a lot of women out there who are just as inexperienced, self-conscious, and lonely. Once you’re in good working order—not perfect, just functional—you might be able to connect with one of those women or some other woman. (But no one wants to connect with a guy who gives off a ragey vibe, so please stay away from incel forums.) And your inexperience makes you less freakish these days than you seem to realize. While 54 percent of high-school students had had sex by age 18 in 1991, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, today only 41 percent of highschool students have had sex by age 18. Which means there are a lot of “late bloomers” out there, ASS. And while you’ve doubtless heard that confidence is attractive, you most likely haven’t been told that a person doesn’t have to be experienced to be confident. A guy just has to be comfortable enough in his own skin to be open about who he is, where he’s at, and what he’s looking for. But first things first: Get yourself a good therapist… and maybe a pair of noise-canceling headphones. On the Lovecast, John Moe of The Hilarious World of Depression: savagelovecast.com.


Lisa Haabestad of Shadyside holds an Air Quality Complaint List, (a record of complaints filed between 2016 and 2018 with the Allegheny Health Department) at a Clean Air Rally in Pittsburgh on Friday, January 10, 2020. (Jake Mysliwczyk/Pittsburgh Current)


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